Ukraine crisis: US to send 3,000 troops to eastern Europe

Russian president Vladimir Putin talks with US president Joe Biden in Geneva in June. Photograph: Peter Klaunzer/EPA

US president Joe Biden has approved the deployment of about 3,000 American troops to eastern Europe in the coming days amid a standoff with Russia over Ukraine, three US officials said ahead of a Pentagon announcement.

The deployments are above and beyond the 8,500 troops the Pentagon put on alert last month to be ready to deploy to Europe if needed. Together, the moves aim to reassure Nato allies in the face of a Russian military build-up near Ukraine.

A source familiar with the details said 1,700 would deploy from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to Poland and another 300 from the base to Germany. About 1,000 Germany-based troops would to head to Romania, the source said.

The Pentagon declined to comment but was expected to brief reporters shortly.

The US troops notified of ready-to-deploy orders last week included additional brigade combat teams, logistics personnel, medical support, aviation support and forces involved with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Russia denies planning an invasion. But, having engineered the ongoing crisis by surrounding Ukraine with forces from the north, east and south, Moscow is now citing the western response as evidence to support its narrative that Russia is the target, not the instigator, of aggression.

Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs pro-Russian rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, is demanding sweeping security guarantees including a promise that Nato never admit Ukraine.

The US has dismissed such calls, saying it would be up to Ukraine and to Nato whether Kyiv ever joins the alliance.

“It’s not something that Mr Putin gets to have a veto on. It doesn’t work like that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday. – Reuters